Report: Developing Best Practice for Conducting Trials of Complex and Behaviour Change Interventions in Health

In October 2018, the Irish Health Behaviour Change Research Group, led by Professor Molly Byrne, held a Winter School on Developing Best Practice for Conducting Trials of Complex and Behaviour Change Interventions in Health.

Submitted by Marita Hennessy, PhD Candidate, National University of Ireland (Galway) School of Psychology   

The event was presented in conjunction with the Irish Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network. The event brought together leading national and international experts from the field of behaviour change and complex intervention research for two days of presentations, workshops, and discussion on best research practice.

On the first day, Prof. David Richards (Complex Interventions Research Group, University of Exeter Medical School, UK) provided an overview of the MRC Complex Interventions Framework and facilitated a session on pilot and feasibility of complex interventions. Prof. Molly Byrne and Dr. Jenny McSharry (Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway) facilitated an interactive session on developing behaviour change interventions. Dr. Sara Levati (Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland) spoke about optimising interventions in advance of full RCTs.

On day 2, Drs. Elaine Toomey and Jenny Mc Sharry (Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway) facilitated a highly engaging session on fidelity and process evaluation of complex interventions. This was followed up by Prof. Molly Byrne who provided an overview of reporting guidelines for complex interventions, specifically CONSORT-SPI. Drrs. Catherine Houghton and Andrew Hunter from the Qualitative Research in Trials Network (QUESTS) facilitated a session on qualitative methods within trials of complex interventions, before Drs. Gerry Molloy and Chris Noone (School of Psychology, NUI Galway) introduced novel evidence synthesis methods for complex interventions, specifically focusing on network meta-analysis.

The final workshop of the Winter School was a highly interactive and lively session on Patient and Public involvement (PPI) within complex and behaviour change interventions, and was facilitated by Ms. Edel Murphy (PPI Ignite, NUI Galway), Dr. Bláthín Casey (D1 Now Programme Manager, Health Behaviour Change Research Group), and Dr. Oonagh Meade (Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway) with support from two members of the fantastic Irish D1 Now Study Young Adult Panel, Cameron Keighron and Monica Mullins.

The Winter School closed with an engaging panel discussion on the priorities for behavioural trials research as identified in the recent IBTN research prioritisation study led by Prof. Molly Byrne (Byrne et al. 2018).

View slides and materials from the workshop

View the IBTN research prioritisation study